I've just had my first Zen moment in Japan.
For a while now, I've been wrestling with what to do next with my life. Something we all face up to at some stage.
I'm staying on the sacred island of Shikoku - hot springs and 88 main temples plus 20 minor temples to make up the magical 108. The temples are situated to create a mandala as prescribed by Japan's most famous son, the great Buddhist monk Kobo Daishi.
Maybe it's the environment that has encouraged this moment of revelation.
The Japanese people display such beautiful humility, respect and care towards those around them. Everyone bows to you. Even the toilet seat welcomes you by opening automatically and that's only the half of it - hot seat; flushing noises; lights; hot water spurting upwards; hot dryer - all controlled by a dashboard which looks like the cockpit of a Dreamliner 787!
Let's get back to my enlightened Zen moment.
I was walking in Dogo Park - dogo is not a breed of Japanese dog - dogo is "the way" - often to a temple. Then 'it' came to me. The answer is all in the trees.
I stopped and observed how the trees were swaying in the soft wind. When the wind stilled, each tree stood upright, calm, motionless - only momentarily affected - in total surrender.
The tree accepts everything. If the wind blows, the branches move - gracefully with elegance and poise. It doesn't resist for it knows it can't and the tree retains its true nature of being regardless of what is happening around it - accepting its fate come rain or shine.
Rather than accept life as it is, we tend to search for an answer or disguise our unhappiness by following the old pattern of being busy - seeking more happiness through our relationships, careers or new activities. Of course these can all contribute to creating a conducive environment for more inner contentment, yet how long does this contentment last?
Unless we can cultivate more inner harmony, more humility and joy in everything we do, then the contentment inside of us fades away.
This time around, instead of filling my time with new projects, I've done as little as possible, consciously observing this process over many months. To help create the space for this internal process to unravel, I have the advantage of meditating every day. But I never meditate looking for an answer.
If the answer doesn't come then there's nothing to do. Sometimes no answer is the answer.
Anyway back to the trees - like all Zen moments the path takes time to reveal the way.
Trees live peacefully in harmony with their environment. They also give unconditionally: transforming carbon monoxide into oxygen, while some bear fruit to feed us and others are cut down to provide us with warmth which they do selflessly. Each tree lives its life moment by moment without expectation acting as the witness - no need to interfere, judge or cause harm to others.
In total surrender the tree seeks nothing and just does what it's supposed to do.
Surrender with love and acceptance with a smile is the cornerstone of spiritual and personal development. Fortunately even our darkest moments don't last and everything is as it is even if it doesn't always suit us.
Real inner transformation and peace comes by watching our innate positive attitude and being more conscious of all the goodness within us - our true nature. We can then become more receptive to new beginnings.
In one Zen moment, nature has reminded me how to be. And no I haven't been on the sake!
David Green was a highly motivated entrepreneur who integrated meditation 20 years ago into his busy and stressful career. He describes how this was possible in The Invisible Hand.